Alex LaBeouf, also known as Alex Lee and Alex from Target, rose to social media fame way back in early 2014 when he legitimately became a Twitter sensation overnight. In case you're not familiar, it all started when a teen Target shopper in Texas snapped a photo of a hot boy working at the checkout counter. And yes, that cashier cutie was Alex. We caught up with the social media star, and Alex reflected on what it was like, as an introvert, to get spontaneously catapulted into fame, along with letting us in on what's ahead.
"I was working at Target and I was just doing my regular shift, but my phone was dead. Then, my manager came up to me and she showed me the picture that was blowing up, and it had like 30,000 retweets. I didn't believe her when she showed me. I thought it was a prank or something. I was very confused – and then, I asked to go turn my phone back on in the back," Alex exclusively told J-14. "My phone was froze. All I saw was that I had 10,000 messages because my phone number got leaked. Also, it wouldn't let me open any of my social media because of all the notifications."
That one single pic the girl snapped ended up sweeping the Internet, and Alex ended up racking up hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers by the end of the night.
"I left work early because people we starting to come in to take pictures and stuff. That got kind of weird," he added. "I was like 'What does this mean? Is this gonna change my life?' The moment I realized it was actually going to change everything was the moment Ellen called."
Alex then went on to visit talk shows around the country, and it's safe to say he had a pretty successful 15 minutes of fame. But that was just the beginning of a rollercoaster he wasn't prepared for. It's been three years since he first blew up, and the 19-year-old has been up to a lot since first getting checked out at checkout...
He got a little taste of the dark side of fame.
Alex told J-14, "The beginning was wondering. The first few months was amazing. I was going on tour. I made a ton of friends. I was going on the news all the time. It was just really fun. Then, all the business aspects kind of ruined it for me."
In the weeks after the big tweet went viral, Alex didn't know how to handle it all. He even told the New York Times he was honestly afraid to leave the house for a while.
But soon after, more and more opportunities came his way. And just like that, he was living the life of a web star.
He had to leave high school.
"I had to leave high school after going on the Ellen Show in Texas you can only miss ten days of school before you're truant and you have to go to court. So, I had to go to court because I was missing so much school from flying out to Los Angeles and all that stuff," he spilled to J-14. "Once I started homeschooling, then I actually got the freedom to kind of go wherever so that after that everything just started getting crazy."
He went on tour.
"I went on tour for a full month. It was the first time I'd ever gone out of state without my parents. It was pretty crazy," he said. "I was best friends with Sam Pottorff. We went on tour together and we because really close friends. I actually moved in with him whenever I moved out to California. I was living with him for a couple months."
The highlight of DigiTour 2015 was when Alex did the worm shirtless, obvs – but it backfired.
He told us, "They asked me 'Can you do anything cool?' and I was like 'I can do the worm,' They were like 'Perfect.' They told me to the worm onstage and I started doing it and at one of the shows I was really, really tired because we had stayed up all night. I go to do the worm and I did a handstand before I did it and I went up too high and I just went face straight into the ground. My whole body just hit the stage so hard and everyone got super quiet. I just got up and everyone was cracking up. I started laughing. I was extremely embarrassed. It was pretty funny."
Alex was totally new to all this social media stuff at first. After all, he totally didn't even mean for all of this to happen!
"What really blew my mind was hanging out with all the Viners whenever Vine was still a thing. Like King Bach and all of them. I was hanging out with them and they were just spitting out ideas like crazy. I could barely keep up."
As a result of being surrounded by a bunch of social media pros, Alex picked up on a lot. Although, to this day, he's still not at the level he wants to be. But hey, everything's a learning experience – and it wasn't too long ago that he was just working as a cashier with no idea of what was to come.
"I didn't even know how to work a camera whenever I started. I learned a lot, but I'm still far from getting to where I want to be. I just started Youtube, and I'm already running into issues like the quality and the sound quality of my Youtube videos. I'm trying to learn."
Which brings us to our next point...
He started a YouTube channel.
Alex is all about making videos, and he just recently brought his YouTube channel back to life. He's posting old videos, along with new ones – and it is all just pure gold, really.
"The reason that I started Youtube again was because – so, my [old] manager had taken my Youtube away from me. We were trying to get it back for over a year – a little over a year and a half. I didn't want to start from scratch. That just wouldn't be ideal when I already had a page that had like 150,000 subscribers," Alex dished to J-14. "Then, we couldn't get it back for that year and a half. So, I had guessed the login for it a few weeks ago and I got into it. Instantly, I was like 'Alright, I need to start posting Youtube videos. I finally got my Youtube back.' I was looking into the settings and stuff and I found out that he still has admin over the page. When you have admin, you have all the rights to whatever they create and all the money they make."
So what did he do? He decided to start fresh with a new account, and shift his YouTube game into high gear with more videos and a true inside look at who Alex really is. Alex Lee, that is – not just the one you know from Target.
Alex continued, "I made a new Youtube channel, and I made a video on the other Youtube channel telling them to go to the new one, so that's how it started."
As for what to expect from his new YouTube channel, he's going to be a lot more open than he was in the past.
"I never really got to show them who I really am. I was always back and forth on social media ever since this thing started. I never really could find my niche, like what I really wanted to do with it. So, now I'm just going to be who I really am and I'm gonna give them more insight to my real life and stuff. I hope they enjoy it," he told us. "I know in the past I've said I was going to be posting every Saturday and then complications happened and I ended up not doing that. This time, I actually am going to keep up with it and they're gonna get to see my real life and what's going on with me. It's going to be really fun."
He went back to school.
Although Alex is now dedicated to taking his YouTube seriously, it's not his life, if you will. In fact, there's something really cool he's working toward at the moment.
"I'm probably not going to put everything I have into this because social media is such a...it's not the type of business I wanna put everything I have into. It's too risky, in my opinion, especially with what I had gone through in the past. So, right now I'm going to be starting school to be an EMT soon."
He's added a few tattoos to his collection.
The star is clearly way more edgy now than he was in his swoopy-haired Target days. Alex let us in on the significance of each tattoo he has.
"I have the cherry blossom tree on my shoulder. I just really like Japanese style art and it means peace and serenity," he spilled to us. "I also have the wave on my arm. That's actually a tattoo me and my girlfriend got together."
Alex isn't one to take a ton of shirtless pictures – but if he did, you'd see another piece of body art.
"I also have a tattoo on my rib cage that says, 'When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you,'" he told us. "My sister always had that written on her mirror – and me and my sister are really close, and I got that tattoo because of that and she's also gonna get the tattoo on her rib cage."
"I have one on my collarbone that says 'Let's get lost.' That was my first tattoo I got whenever I got here because I was feeling adventurous."
His fifth and final (well, for now) tattoo? A smiley face on his middle finger! He spilled, "I got it whenever I was on tour. Actually me, Maddie Welborn, Andrew Fontenot we had all gotten it because Maddie knows how to do stick and poke tattoos. She's like 'Don't worry. It'll be gone in a couple months.' We all got it and it's still there."
He has a girlfriend.
Her name is Kelsey, and they're like the cutest couple ever, you guys. Oh, and the way they met? Ugh, our hearts!
"Me and my girlfriend met as soon as I moved out to LA. I actually moved in next to her. I moved in right next door, and we had met in the hallway. It was really funny because I had just gotten back from Playlist Live, and I had this cut in my forehead because my friend threw a butter knife at me. It was stupid. I was just trying to eat peanut butter with a butterknife. He threw the peanut butter, then he threw the butterknife and the butterknife hit me. So, I had this gash on my forehead, and I was walking down the hallway. It was very awkward, but it was awesome. Then, we went out to Denny's at midnight, and it was just super fun."
Oh yeah, and she totally knew he was ~Twitter famous~ too. Alex spilled, "Our landlord had told her. She was like 'Hey, did you know Alex from Target is moving in next door?'"
He steered clear of an acting career.
The whole music and movies thing was not in the cards for Alex, which is why you didn't see his acting career take off. "I can't sing. I don't like hearing myself sing," he exclusively told us.
His IMDB page, which literally is titled "Alex from Target" instead of his real name, shows that he starred in a drama called "Coming Home." Although the movie is listed as "completed," there doesn't seem to be a release date attached to it. Buy hey, this hilarious boy band spoof he was in counts as a noteworthy production in our minds.
So there you have it! It's crazy to think three whole years have passed, but it's honestly crazier to think that he still has 1.6 million Instagram followers and over 600k Twitter followers all from one pretty pic. A lot has changed, but Alex will always be ~from Target~ in our hearts.
This post was originally published on July 28, 2017 and since has been updated.